WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Turkish foreign minister on Monday the United States would keep its two Patriot missile batteries in Turkey for up to another year, the Pentagon said.
The expected decision follows backing last week by NATO allies for the extension, which helps bolster Turkish air defenses as Syria's civil war rages.
"The United States has decided to continue its contribution of two Patriot batteries under NATO command and control for up to one additional year, in response to Turkey's request," the Defense Department said in statement after Hagel met with Ahmet Davutoglu at the Pentagon.
Turkey has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad's fiercest critics and shells fired from Syrian territory frequently land inside Turkey, drawing a response in kind from the Turkish military.
Like the United States, Germany and the Netherlands also deployed Patriot defense missiles to Turkey at the start of this year. In those two countries, parliamentary approval is needed for an extension.